Ask Madison: Reader Mail Volume 3

Posted by Madison on February 17, 2009

It’s time for another round of reader questions! I often get similar questions from readers, so it helps to share the answers with everyone. If you want to check out previous questions, see:


How do you open an ING account for children? I would like to open one for my 11 year old. Don’t they have a minimum age limit? How do you get around it, joint account? She has a savings account that I would like to link it with. -Thomas

Here’s how I opened the accounts for each of my kids. I use a ING $25 Sign Up Bonus, and select the joint account option, which doesn’t have a minimum age limit. I make the kids the primary account owner so the earnings are assigned to their social security number (and essentially tax free). However, kids can’t transfer money, so I link the account to my checking account.

To make the process a more hands on learning experience for the kids, I have them deposit their piggy bank money at our local bank. Then I transfer it to my checking account, and finally to their savings accounts and CDs at ING. It works pretty well.


The premium federal e-file + state TaxCut from Amazon is $40 (at the time of writing). I know that if you e-file the state return through TaxCut it is another $19.95. However in my state (Virginia), I can e-file for free if I fill in the forms online.

Can I prepare my state return with TaxCut so that I know the numbers are correct, and then just plug them into the free e-file at the state site and I am good to go? I had read something about TaxCut forcing you to e-file your state through them if you opted to prepare your state with them. -Joseph

Glad your state offers the e-file for free. You should be fine. I do something similar, I use TaxCut to file my federal return, but then I prepare, print out and send in my state return. TaxCut never forced me to e-file the state return too.


Waitaminit. Do I understand this correctly? If HALF your Social Security plus ALL your gross income from other sources is less than $25,000, you don’t have to file a tax return? In other words, you wouldn’t pay any income taxes? Funny about Money [Referring to How Much Money Do You Have to Make to File Taxes?]

Yep, you read it correctly. All the income includes retirement plan distributions, tax exempt interest and other exclusions from income. Here’s more information from the IRS: Are Your Social Security Benefits Taxable?


I just started using Mint in December after I read about it on your site. It appears to no longer support my financial institution — UGHHH. Do you recommend another budget tracking site, whether the info is downloaded or manually input doesn’t matter, I just need a reliable site. -Ann

That sucks that they pulled your bank. Quicken offers a free online version if you want to give it a try.

I use Microsoft Money myself, but not the online version, the software version that goes on the desktop. I had to purchase it, but I can tell you it’s one of those products I can’t live without.


I love your site as I find it very useful, but some of the information sometimes doesn’t apply because I’m from Canada. Do you have a site for Canadians? Or can you direct me to a site that offers great advice for Canadians? -Pamela

My favorite site for Canadians is Million Dollar Journey. It’s a fantastic site and you’ll find a lot of helpful information there.


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Comments to Ask Madison: Reader Mail Volume 3

  1. Thanks for the plug Madison!

    Million Dollar Journey

  2. if i had a tax question that may be useful for others to hear, could i just email you about it?


  3. @ Liz: You bet!


  4. @Ann: Have you tried emailing Mint about your financial institution? Their customer service staff has been very responsive to me in trying to get their cohesion with financial institutions added or fixed.


  5. Came across sogotrade at $3 a trade plus a few different incentives:

    Have you ever tried them?


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